Skip Beat, Vol. 1
written by Yoshiki Nakamura
If you’re looking for a long-standing shojo manga series to become truly invested in, I would like to recommend Yoshiki Nakamura’s series Skip Beat! This series has it all: a scrappy protagonist, dual love interests, emotional depth, and pop-culture madness.
I am probably one of a very small group of people who started reading Skip Beat! after reading Miki Aihara’s Honey Hunt; most people I know read Honey Hunt almost as an afterthought. These titles are constantly compared, and indeed, they are on the surface very similar. Both feature teenage girls betrayed by loved ones (who are incidentally famous), who are determined to deal with these betrayals by also joining show business. Thematically, the works both deal with the exploration of a growing personality through acting and stardom.
However, for me, this is where the similarities end. While I truly enjoyed Honey Hunt, Kyoko Mogami, the protagonist of Skip Beat!, is inherently different from Honey Hunt’s Yura. After Kyoko’s childhood friend, the pop idol Sho, reveals that he has brought her to Tokyo merely as a ‘servant,’ Kyoko’s nice girl image suddenly changes. She does not meekly cry and slowly start her progression to stardom. Rather, Kyoko becomes furious and promises revenge. Her path to self-discovery does not start subtly: it starts with a bang.
This feature of the series—a female protagonist who deals with problems through anger and not through self-doubt—is incredibly unique for this genre. While Kyoko obviously has problems to work through, her starting point feels more optimistic than the protagonists of other titles.
Even in the first volume, the characters of Skip Beat! show a great emotional range. It is this feature that will be attractive to many teen readers. Not only is the main character on the path to self-discovery, but the male teen idols Sho and Ren show great promise to be true emotional characters.
The art of Skip Beat! also seems a little more detailed and realistic than many shojo manga titles. This awareness of detail heightens the different emotional states of Kyoko, lending to the intriguing emotional truth of the work.